Two-thirds of employees want to start work before 9am, survey finds

Experts warn organisations must be ‘responsive and agile’ to workers’ needs as traditional hours are shunned

Two-thirds of employees want to start work before 9am, survey finds

Nine-to-five working is no longer the norm, as two-thirds (66 per cent) of UK employees would rather start and finish earlier, research published today has revealed. 

A survey from YouGov, commissioned by McDonald’s, found only 14 per cent of employees would opt for  working hours of 9am to 5pm. Of the 2,000 people surveyed, just 6 per cent currently worked these hours. 

Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive and co-chair of the government’s Flexible Working Task Force, said the findings show employers need to be receptive to employees’ needs and avoid a narrow view of what a working day looks like. 

“Flexible working is a growing preference for lots of people and provides opportunities to work for many who have other commitments or constraints that make it hard for them to work traditional working patterns,” he said. 

Cheese added that employees with access to flexible working arrangements were more likely to be satisfied with, and committed to, their organisation. But he noted uptake of flexible working is still low and most jobs are not advertised as being open to different working arrangements. 

“Employers need to take charge, putting flexible working options in place and improving behaviours and attitudes towards flexible working to create a win-win for individuals and organisations,” he said. 

Claire McCartney, CIPD diversity and inclusion advisor, agreed that senior leaders needed to reassess their recruitment and working practices to cater for workers’ expectations. 

“Flexible working can be a great tool for organisations to be responsive and agile to market changes,” she said. “In a tight labour market, with substantial skills shortages, it also means that those employers who offer flexibility at the point of hire are more likely to attract the talent they need for their organisations to survive and thrive.”

McCartney added that by offering flexible work, organisations can also tap into more diverse talent pools, whose workers may find it difficult to stick to more traditional arrangements. 

The research also found that not everyone wanted to start work early in the day. Young workers were more likely to want a later start (19 per cent of 18-24 year olds) and more than a quarter (27 per cent) of employees in London wanted their work day to begin after 9am. 

Karen Mattison, co-founder of Timewise, said employers must be adaptable. “Work has changed dramatically,” she said. “What hasn’t caught up is the jobs market. There is a huge oversupply of talented and skilled people who want flexible jobs – yet just 11 per cent of vacancies advertised in the UK offer salaries of £20,000 or more and any flexibility up front.

“There is a huge opportunity for innovative businesses here, that can look at job design and the way they hire in a fresh way.”